Labour's youth turnout problem

Labour's youth turnout problem

It's widely known that older voters tend to vote Conservative, and that they often turn out at elections.  Conversely, younger voters tend to be Labour voters, and yet don't vote in the same proportions as their parents' and grandparents' generations.

It seems, then, that Labour has a disadvantage built into its electoral coalition.  But how bad is it really?  If, for instance, young voters are less likely to vote but are overwhelmingly likely to vote Labour, does the party really still have cause for concern?

To investigate this, we took the last five YouGov polls, stretching back to the beginning of March, and plotted the Conservative lead for each age group and plotted this lead against the percentage of each group who reported that they were 9 or 10 out of 10 likely to vote.  The result is shown below:

As expected, there is a positive correlation between age group and the Conservative party's lead in that group: among 18-24 year-olds, the Tories have an average lead (over the last five polls) of -12 points - that is to say Labour has an average lead of +12 points in this group.  For voters aged between 25 and 49, Labour has a mean average lead of 0.4 points, though most of the data points for this age group do, in fact, give very small leads to the Tories.  And, as the received wisdom suggests, 50-64s give the Tories an average lead of 16.8 points, while the Conservatives have a lead of 37.4 among voters older than 65.

And we see an expected trend in terms of likelihood to vote, too: younger voters consistently reported to YouGov that they were far less certain to vote than older voters.

So what does this mean for Labour?

Well, given the Conservatives' huge leads among high-turnout older voters, Labour would need one of two things to be okay: either it would need massive youth turnout to compensate for their relatively small lead among these voters, or it would need a massive lead among the young to compensate for their lower turnout.  Ideally, it would have both: big leads among high turnout young voters to even out the Tories' large leads among high turnout older voters.

But it seems they have neither.  As expected, younger voters don't seem to plan to vote in as great proportions as their older counterparts.  But also, Labour's average lead of 12 points among this youngest age group just isn't high enough to offset the Tories' 37.4 point lead among the oldest age group.

This, it shouldn't need saying, is a big problem for Labour.

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Voter Flows: YouGov, 5-6 April

Voter Flows: YouGov, 5-6 April

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